Liverpool face a trip to Vicarage Road on Saturday to kick-start their proceedings for the season against Watford.
Finally, after three months of international football action, hyped-up friendlies, ridiculous transfers and even more ridiculously transfer rumours, we can draw our attention to Premier League football come Friday.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be making their way to Vicarage Road keeping their sights fixed on coming away with no less than three points on Saturday. The Reds certainly haven’t had the most glamourous transfer window compared to some of their direct title rivals and even Sunday’s opponents, Watford.
The Hornets, who early on in the window acquired the services of Marco Silva following the sacking of Walter Mazzarri, have dug deep and done their homework for the window bring in players such as Nathaniel Chalobah, Andre Gray, Richarlison, Kiko Femenia, Tom Cleverley and Will Hughes.
Liverpool have managed a few eye-catching names themselves with former Chelsea players Dominic Solanke and Mohamed Salah coming in along with Andrew Robertson – the latest to join an illustrious bunch of Scottish players to have graced the Merseyside giants.
Team News and Tactics
The Hornets ended up with a disappointing 17th placed finish last season as they received a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on the final day of the campaign. Ever since, the club have fervently taken efforts to revamp the team starting with the face of the club by appointing Marco Silva manager early on in the summer.
Although, it is unlikely that all of their new signings will feature, Andre Gray is among the favourites to be handed a debut especially with Troy Deeney set to miss out due to injury.
The former Burnley striker had Liverpool defenders on the ropes when he helped his former side to a famous 2-1 win at Turf Moor a year ago and Silva will hope the Englishman can do exactly that on Saturday.
Silva is expected to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation for Watford. Traditionally, it would have been Troy Deeney up top for the Hornets but with the Englishman’s injury, Okaka remains the only other option in addition to Gray. New signing Richarlison is also an option but Silva is unlikely to start the Brazilian on Saturday.
The Hornets will rely on the creativity of Pereyra in the left attacking mid role to provide Gray with the kind of service that would wreck havoc on Liverpool’s defence. Ex-Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul is set to lead the charge in centre-back for Watford with Britos, Holebas and Janmaat completing the back-line.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gomes; Janmaat, Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Doucoure, Chalobah; Amrabat, Cleverley, Pereyra, Gray.
The Reds have suffered injury blows in the form of Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho going into the new campaign but they will hope the rest of the team, who have been decent in pre-season, turn up at Vicarage Road.
Liverpool have had the better of Watford on three of the last four occasions with their biggest win coming last season at home when they thrashed Walter Mazzarri’s team by a resounding 6-1 margin. However things will be different with Marco Silva at the helm this time around.
While Coutinho and Sturridge are out, the Reds welcome the services of captain Jordan Henderson to the side who missed much of the second half of last season owing to a heel injury. Sadio Mane also returns to first-team action after he missed action from April and May owing to an injury sustained during the Merseyside derby.
Liverpool are expected to line-up in their preferred 4-3-3 formation with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino forming the attacking front three while Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum complete the midfield.
With Clyne out, Trent Alexander Arnold could take the mantle at right-back after an impressive showing during pre-season. Meanwhile at left-back, Klopp has Alberto Moreno, new signing Andrew Robertson and the reliable James Milner to choose from and it remains to be seen who the German boss opts for.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
- Watford have lost their last three Premier League meetings with Liverpool, with an aggregate score of 1-9 in the Reds’ favour.
- Emre Can’s spectacular overhead kick sealed a 1-0 win for Liverpool at Vicarage Road last season on May 1, 2017.
- Watford are yet to record an opening day Premier League win, losing twice and drawing twice while Liverpool have won their last four opening day fixtures.
- Three of Liverpool’s four defeats on opening day in the Premier League have come away from Anfield.
- Klopp’s heaviest defeat as Liverpool manager came against Watford in December 2015, with the Reds going down 3-0 at Vicarage Road.
Player To Watch
Mohamed Salah, who scored 4 goals off his 5 outings during pre-season, will be keen to get things up and running quickly. The Egyptian has been impressive all summer and Klopp will hope he can team up with Firmino and Mane and carry that forward at Vicarage Road.
Watford 1 – 2 Liverpool
On paper, Watford certainly have had the better transfer window among the two sides but that said there is still a discernible difference in the quality despite the absence of key figures in the Liverpool strip.
Therefore, The Hard Tackle backs the Reds for three points on the day and nothing short of it would do for Jurgen Klopp as well who will have the pressure of securing silverware riding on his head going into the 2017-18 campaign.